by Arika Linton, Contributing Writer

…because black millennial women who balance the personal and professional need the spotlight, too.

Today’s millennial woman is multidimensional and chooses to define herself by her acts of service in the community, business endeavors, and the strategy used to achieve personal and professional goals. Kiara Imani Williams is the epitome of a millennial woman; multifaceted, tenacious, and creative enough to bring any project to life. Today, she talks with The Chicago Defender about her latest book, Therapy Isn’t Just For White People.

Kiara, how does your influence impact the world?

It still feels strange to consider myself an influencer. Mostly, I try to ask myself the question, what do I wish someone would have told me when I was a kid? What do I wish I didn’t have to experience? And then I try to have an impact in those areas. I think our actions are just as important as our words, so I try my best not just to talk about change, but to be the change I wish to see.

As a leading millennial voice in entrepreneurship, why was it important for you to create a platform that connects black people to culture via conversation? 

I think as Black people, for so long we were not allowed to tell our own stories. We weren’t allowed to read or write, and we didn’t have a voice. Now we have the opportunity to share our stories. We get to take control of our narrative. I’m passionate about creating spaces for us to share and exchange. I think if the U.S. really wants to eradicate racism, people need to hear untold Black stories.

For those just introduced to your platform, tell our audience how you journeyed into the realm of your latest book, Therapy Isn’t Just For White People?

Initially, I was skeptical of therapy. In the Black community, many of us were taught that we are too blessed to be stressed. We’re told to turn to Jesus in times of need and pray our fears away. I reluctantly tried therapy for the first time in my late twenties at the suggestion of a friend. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, and my friend thought therapy might help.

Therapy did help with my anxiety but more than anything, I really got an opportunity to get to know myself. I had so many revelations about the trauma and microaggressions I experienced as a Black woman growing up in America. I wrote Therapy Isn’t Just For White People because I wanted to address the question, “What’s so hard about being Black?” I wanted to share my experiences to create more empathy and understanding.

Why is it important for millennials to understand the importance of therapy and its positive effect on black culture?

I believe that most Black people in America deal with a lot of micro-traumas, or mini traumas that add up over time. When I say trauma, I mean anything that changes the way we see ourselves, the world around us, or God in a negative light.  As Black people, it’s important that we learn to take care of our mental health. We can’t effectively show up for anyone else – our friends, our families, our children, our communities – if we don’t take care of ourselves and our mental state. I want Black people to know that going to therapy is not a display of weakness, but a display of strength.

Kiara, you aren’t just an author – you also created a card game, LikeU geared to combat cancel culture one deck at a time. As a creative entrepreneur, how do you balance your personal and professional life?

I’m big on setting boundaries, and I listen to my body. When I’m tired, I make time for sleep. When I’m stressed, I take a night off.  When I want to have fun and let loose, I plan a date night with my boyfriend or a weekend getaway.  I also don’t allow myself to feel guilty for saying “no” to things. We can’t be all things to all people, and that’s okay.

We believe that success and self-care can only be defined on our own terms. How have you identified how success and self-care are linear in your life? 

I set myself up for success by minimizing the possibility of self-sabotage. I tell people all the time that I can’t show up as the best version of myself if I don’t take care of myself. In order to operate with excellence, it takes energy. I make recharging a priority in my life. I never want to be in a pitch meeting operating at 50% because I didn’t do what I needed to do to recharge my battery.

Lastly, finish this sentence. As a millennial mind, it is important for readers to know…

You belong. your worth is not tied to your appearance or your output. You matter simply because you exist, and the world is a better place because you’re in it.